President Putin signed a decree to reorganize the Federal Security Service (FSB). The decree provides for changes in the structure of the department and the expansion of the power of the FSB director and his deputies (whose number is to be cut by about 66%). According to Izvestia, Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the FSB, will independently reorganize his department within three months as envisaged by the law. There will be significant changes to the FSB's top officials. The FSB director will now decide the number and make up of the board - a function earlier performed by the president. The head of the agency will not only have the right to give officials authority over FSB departments and troops but also to entrust them with additional managerial functions, which was previously a decision the president made.
The number of FSB deputy directors will be reduced from 12 (including three first deputies) to four (with two first deputies). The deputies will have the right to represent their agency in relations with other state power bodies, while previously only the director had that right. The decree also raises the status of the FSB's top officers: the director and his deputies will be equal to a Russian minister and his deputies in terms of status, wages, social and living conditions, and medical coverage, Izvestia reported.
President Vladimir Putin received Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov on Wednesday. The prime minister told the head of state that industrial output had increased by 7.4% in the first six months of this year as compared to the same period last year. In June, the figure increased by 9.2% year-on-year. Hence, Kommersant reported that the prime minister would chair today's government session in a particularly good mood. According to the newspaper, the June growth looked especially impressive as compared to the previous months when industrial development obviously sloweddown. According to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, in May industrial output grew by a mere 5.5%, and slightly more (6.7% and 6.6%) in April and March. Meanwhile, the February growth stood at 8.7%. And even in January, which is traditionally a holiday month, it was 7.5%. So the slow growth came during the beginning of spring, government reshuffles and the administrative reform, Kommersant noted.
Apparently, players on the Russian stock market tortured by the endless problems surrounding Yukos and the "pointless and merciless" banking crisis, have decided to take a break, NG reported. On the first day of this week on Russian Trading System (RTS), volume of trading was only $5.7 million, on Tuesday it was $10 million and on Wednesday it was less than $10 million (on average the figure is generally $25-30 million). Analysts said that the seasonal factor of summer holidays has finally had an effect. The majority of experts forecasted low activity on the stock market for the next few months, although, the situation could change if the Yukos situation is resolved. Overall, Russian and Western analysts are certain that the market will grow in a medium term due to the favorable situation on the oil market, NG reported.
The session of the trilateral Joint Control Commission on resolving the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict began in Moscow on Wednesday after being delayed for several weeks, but the session has not ended, VN reported. When this issue went to press, the commission was working on the final protocol, which "could be signed by all the parties," a participant in the meeting said. Theoretically, the protocol had to be completed today but as of now, the sides have considerable differences, VN noted. Both Georgian and South Ossetian representatives talked about the need for rapid demilitarization. However, South Ossetia, represented by Minister at Large Boris Chochiyev interprets this need as thepullout of "excessive" Georgian formations from the conflict zone. The minister said that this included hardware and 16 illegal posts. Georgia spoke about the need for the complete demilitarization of South Ossetia. Georgian Security Council Secretary Gela Bezhuashvili said that this was the primary decision that his government expected from the commission's Moscow session. Apart from demilitarization, Georgia expects a solution to the issue of control over the South Ossetian section of the Russo-Georgian border, VN reported.
The Executive Committee of the Russian Olympic Committee determined the preliminary line-up of the Russian Olympic team for the Athens Games. On July 21, the list will be sent to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee. However, IOC regulations allow the list to be amended until the very last moment.
Gazeta reported that today the Olympic selection took place in all sports, except for track and field. Representatives of this sport will dot the i's and cross the t's at the national championship July 28 to August 1 in Tula (south of Moscow). However, some track and field athletes were included in the preliminary list. The names of 467 athletes going to Greece are already known. But the number could increase to 477. Overall, the Russia team will include 730 people and will be one of the largest teams, Gazeta wrote.